On March 18, 1980, during a devotional assembly in BYU’s Marriott Center, President Dallin H. Oaks announced the Board of Trustees’ decision to name the new campus management building in honor of N. Eldon Tanner. President Oaks characterized President Tanner as a practitioner and exemplar of the arts of management, as a man who has made a profound impact on the Church and its members, and as an appropriate role model for our students in management.
At the groundbreaking, held November 8, 1980, speaker after speaker commented upon the appropriateness of honoring President Tanner with a building which would serve students and faculty in the years to come in much the same manner that N. Eldon Tanner has served the Church, his community, his country, and his family.
N. Eldon Tanner was born May 8, 1898, in Salt Lake City, to Nathan William Tanner and Sarah Edna Brown Tanner. Most of his life was spent in the Mormon colonies in Alberta, Canada. He attended school in Calgary and, just a short time after graduation, became a teacher and principal of a three-room school in Hill Spring. There he met and married Sara Isabelle Merrill.
In the years that followed, the Tanners became the parents of five daughters-Ruth, Sara Isabelle, Zola, Edna Beth and Helen. The years saw President Tanner farm, become the owner and manager of a general store, be elected to the Alberta legislature and become the provincial minister of lands and mines. He remained in government service until 1952, when he became president of Merrill Petroleums of Canada. Later, as head of TransCanada Pipeline, Limited, he directed the building of the TransCanadian pipeline. He became nationally known in Canadian business and financial circles for the service he rendered to Canada. He became internationally known for his personal integrity and management skills.
President and Sister Tanner moved to Salt Lake City in early 1961. President Tanner was ordained an Apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on October 11, 1962, and he served as counselor to four presidents. President Tanner served the Church, Salt Lake City and its citizens. His community service was recognized in 1978 when he was honored with the “A Giant in Our City” Award by the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
President Tanner, at age 84, died November 27, 1982, at his home in Salt Lake City.